With the holiday season in full swing, consumers can be seen purchasing food for family events with shopping carts filled to the brim and lines that seem never ending. Those who choose to purchase their food with the mantra of it being “good” and “clean” anxiously await for their favorite farmer’s markets to open in city. But what sometimes take for granted is the one thing that makes living in this country so great- having a choice.
Wholesale produce markets exist in many areas around the world where farmers can freely sell their produce like in Latin America for example. But in Cuba, this has not been a luxury- at least until now.
NPR reported today that for the first time in a half -century, the communist country has begun to tolerate a “free-est” market as a result to push farmers to produce more, as profit is the main priority thanks to , 81-year-old Raul Castro who slowly loosen the tight grip of the government. Still tightly regulated, private farmers will still have to meet an annual production quota that requires farmers to sell large portions of their produce t to the government at low prices. However, food prices in Cuba are at an all-time high, whereas just one vegetable could cost an entire day wage for the individuals who rely on the government.
Cuba spends $1.5 billion a year importing about 70 percent of its food although the country is full of fertile farm land. Millions of acres of land have now been handed over to private farmers in attempt to entice Cubans to grow food for the country.
Markets open in the city at night where Cubans sell items such as onions, squash and papas, all sales done in cash. The days where police would confiscate farmer’s produce as come to end, whereas private farmers now have the peace of mind knowing that what they are doing are legal.
It is hard for us Americans to ever think that the hard work private farmers put in to produce our food should be punishable work. It is important for us to support not only our local farmers, but farmers everywhere.